FAQs

FAQs

These Frequently Asked Questions and Answers are continually updated to address new and changing issues and concerns. Please check back often for the latest information.

Updated May 19, 2022

COVID-19 VACCINATIONS

How do I get a booster vaccination?

(Updated Dec. 10, 2021) You can get a vaccine booster at the campus Vaccine Clinic. Other locations are listed through the Massachusetts COVID-19 vaccine finder and at Vaccines.gov.

How do I submit proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to UMass?

(Updated Jan. 26, 2022)  For any COVID-19 vaccine doses received outside of Massachusetts, follow these steps to submit documentation of your initial series of shots and/or your booster dose:

  1. Login to the UMass Patient Portal and click the “Immunization” tab.
  2. For your original vaccine series, select "COVID-19 Vaccines." Find your vaccine type and enter the date(s) you received your vaccine.
  3. To update your record with your booster dose, scroll down to the last category, "COVID-19 Boosters." Find your vaccine type and enter the date you received your booster.
  4. Click "Submit" and go to the Upload page.
  5. Under "Documents Available to be Uploaded," select A – REQUIRED IMMUNIZATIONS FORM.
  6. Upload a photo of the vaccine card that you were given by the health care provider who administered the immunization.

If you need help accessing the UMass Patient Portal, please review our Patient Portal FAQs or email uhsportalhelp@umass.edu.

I submitted my COVID-19 booster verification through the UHS Patient Portal. Why am I still getting emails from the university saying I need to get my booster?

(Added Jan. 21, 2022)  If you submitted your proof of booster vaccination through the UHS Patient Portal and are still receiving booster reminder emails, your verification is in the system and in the process of being verified. Once verification is completed, you will receive an email indicating you are in compliance with the booster requirement. You do not need to do anything else at this time.

 

Are there exemptions to the vaccination requirement?

(Updated Jan. 25, 2021)  Students attending UMass may request an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, subject to religious and disability accommodations pursuant to state and federal law. 

To request a medical or religious exemption request:

  1. Login to the UMass Patient Portal
  2. Click “Forms”
  3. Select the appropriate form (Medical Exemption Request or Religious Exemption Request)
  4. Download and complete the form (must be signed by a parent or guardian if student is under 18)
  5. Click “Upload”
  6. Select “Required Immunizations Form,” upload and submit the completed form

Faculty or staff who wish to request a medical or religious-based exemption from the vaccination requirement may do so using the forms located on the HR Fall 2021 website.

Required Testing for Students, Faculty or Staff with an Approved Exemption

  • Students who have an approved COVID-19 vaccine medical or religious exemption are required to be tested twice a week.
     
  • Faculty and staff who have an approved COVID-19 vaccine medical or religious exemption are required to be tested once a week. 

In the event of an identified elevated public health risk, emergency, or outbreak, exempt individuals may be isolated and/or excluded from campus, including but not limited to all classes, activities, travel, and on-campus housing.

Exemptions granted for Fall 2021 remain in effect for Spring 2022.

I am a student in UWW or in another fully-remote program. Do I still need to submit proof of vaccination?

(Added Jan. 25, 2022) If you are a fully remote student and never come to campus you are not required to submit proof of vaccination. However, if you come to campus at all, even to visit, you must follow the current campus visitor policy which requires proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test in most cases. 

I had a vaccine exemption for Fall 2021. Will this continue for Spring 2022?

(Updated Dec. 3, 2021) Previously approved religious or medical exemptions from the  COVID-19 vaccination requirement remain in effect for the spring 2022 semester. Individuals who were previously granted exemptions from vaccinations for medical or religious reasons continue to be required to test twice weekly during the spring semester.

How did UMass Amherst get my vaccine information without me uploading it?

(Added Aug. 16, 2021) People who are vaccinated in Massachusetts are enrolled in the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS). You may have seen this information posted where you were vaccinated or mentioned in the consent when you consented to be immunized.  We get this data from the state.  If you have more questions about MIIS you can find that information at www.mass.gov/service-details/massachusetts-immunization-information-system-miis.

MIIS only gives access to vaccination records. No other health data is shared with the University.

I am an international student. What happens if I can’t easily get access to a vaccine where I live, either in the U.S. or abroad? Can I get vaccinated when I get to UMass?

(Updated Sept. 14, 2021)  International students who are unable to access the COVID-19 vaccine prior to arrival in the U.S. may get vaccinated at UMass.  Students are required to participate in the campus asymptomatic testing program until they are considered fully vaccinated.

Which vaccines does UMass Amherst currently accept as approved vaccines?

(Updated Dec. 1, 2021) UMass follows Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines on approved vaccines in Massachusetts which allow the current World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccines: 

  • Moderna
  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • Covishield
  • Covaxin
  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac

If I am fully or partially vaccinated with a vaccine that is not WHO-approved, what will I need to do when I arrive at UMass?

(Added May 6, 2021) Current scientific guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health requires you to restart your vaccination schedule in the U.S. at least 28 days after your last dose of the non-approved vaccine. This is a changing situation, and we will update guidance for international students regularly and provide specific instructions as it becomes available.

If I am fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine do I need to get vaccinated when I arrive at UMass?

(Added May 6, 2021) NoStudents who are fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine, either in the U.S. or in another country, do not need any additional vaccination when arriving at UMass.

Do I need to be a Massachusetts resident to get a booster? What if I lived somewhere else when I got my initial COVID-19 vaccine doses?

(Updated May 18, 2022) You can get a booster in Massachusetts if you live, work or study here, even if you got your first or second dose of the vaccine in another state or country.  

COVID-19 TESTING

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

(Updated May 17, 2022) Kits for unobserved testing for people without symptoms are available at the Public Health Promotion Center now located in Draper Hall 1st floor. Completed kits can be returned to one of the drop boxes.

See COVID-19 Testing Programs for complete details including the current hours and locations of drop boxes.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please go to University Health Services for symptomatic testing. 

How do I learn the results of my COVID-19 test?

(Updated Jan. 21, 2022) Results from tests done dropped off in a kiosk on Monday through Thursday and Friday before Noon are ready within 24-48 hours. Results from tests dropped off on Friday after Noon, Saturday through Sunday are ready the following Monday evening or Tuesday. 

If you test NEGATIVE, you will be notified via email from careevolve@lknotification.com or umalab@umass.edu. You will need to register and log in to a secure portal to get your results.

If you test POSITIVE, you will receive a call from a UMass Amherst public health nurse who will explain further steps. All individuals who test positive are required to isolate in accordance with the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health authorities. We will help you every step of the way.

Your results are completely confidential except as required by state guidelines in order to conduct case investigations and contact tracing.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

(Updated May 10, 2022) Regardless of your vaccination status, if you test positive you must isolate for five days. If you test positive using UMass testing facilities, a UMass public health case manager will call and give you specific instructions. If you test positive through a different facility, isolate in place and report your results to the Public Health Promotion Center immediately by emailing testing@umass.edu.

See the Public Health Promotion Center Isolation and Quarantine page for more information. 

What happens if I have been in contact with someone who tested positive?

(Updated May 10, 2022Please visit the Public Health Promotion Center Isolation and Quarantine page for more information.

I forgot my password to access test results. What should I do?

(Added Feb. 22, 2021) If you forgot your password for accessing your test results through the UMass Lab, please do not use the “forgot your password” option, which is run by a third party and is unable to reset your password. To maintain your privacy, we ask that you instead send an email to testing@umass.edu to have your password manually reset. When your request is processed, you will receive a confirmation email. Given the current volume of email, there may be a delay in processing.

Who do I contact if I have a question about COVID-19 testing?

(Updated Dec. 22, 2021) Students, faculty and staff can email testing@umass.edu with questions related to COVID-19 testing. Please be aware this email is not for private health information, but for logistical or technical help with the testing process.

FACE MASKS

Why did UMass Amherst lift its indoor mask requirement?

(Added March 9, 2022) Given the significantly improved public health environment of our campus and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the campus lifted its indoor mask requirement in most circumstances. Data indicates that severe illness is extremely rare within our highly vaccination and boosted community. However, please continue to monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms every day before coming to campus. If you feel unwell, stay home and get tested.

Where are face coverings still required on campus?

(Updated March 9, 2022) UMass Amherst has lifted its indoor mask requirement in most circumstances. Individuals are required to wear masks aboard public transportation (including PVTA buses) and in healthcare facilities (including University Health Services, Public Health Promotion Center, and Center for Counseling and Psychological Health). Masks are also required in the Center for Early Education and Child Care. Individuals are welcome to wear masks at their own discretion.

Are face masks required in healthcare facilities?

(Updated March 9, 2022) Yes, face masks are required in healthcare facilities including University Health Services, Public Health Promotion Center, and Center for Counseling and Psychological Health.

Are face masks required on PVTA buses?

(Updated April 19, 2022) No, effective April 19, 2022 face masks are no longer required aboard public transportation, including PVTA buses.

Are face masks required in the university’s child care setting?

(Updated March 9, 2022) Yes, masks are required on campus at the Center for Early Education and Child Care.

When are masks also recommended?

(Updated March 9, 2022) Masks are recommended for individuals or anyone in their household who have a weakened immune system, are at increased risk for severe illness, or have not been vaccinated. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated and boosted should also continue to wear masks indoors.

How can I get a mask?

(Updated May 18, 2022) Free KN95 masks are available at the Public Health Promotion Center located in Draper Hall. 

What should I do if someone isn’t wearing a mask in required settings?

(Updated March 9, 2022). If you notice someone without a face covering in a required indoor setting, you can distance yourself or ask that they wear a mask. If you are a staff member, you may refer the situation to your supervisor.

Can I seek accommodations for my documented health condition?

Yes, individuals may seek reasonable accommodations for their own documented health conditions by contacting Disability Services (for students) and Accessible Workplace Office (for staff & faculty).

Are masks required outdoors?

(Added Jan. 14, 2022) Masks are not required outdoors. However, anyone may wear a mask on campus whenever and wherever they want.

What precautions should I take with my face covering?

(Added Jan. 14, 2022) Using face coverings incorrectly can spread germs. It is important to properly wear, store and dispose of face coverings by doing the following:

  • When putting on and taking off a face covering, you might touch your face. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or, if not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer every time you put on and take off your face covering. If you are unable to clean your hands, be very careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when putting on and taking off your face covering.
  • Do not put a used face covering in places where others can touch it or where germs trapped in your face covering can touch other surfaces, such as counter tops or your kitchen table.
  • Do not throw your face covering loose in a bag or backpack. Keep a plastic bag with you to store your face covering if you will be taking it off when outside your home.
  • Used paper masks should be thrown out at the end of the day. Properly dispose them in the trash. Do not throw single-use face coverings or disposable gloves on the ground.

What if I want to wear a mask, even in circumstances when I’m not required to?

(Added Jan. 14, 2022) Anyone may wear a face covering on campus whenever and wherever they want.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

I need a signed document stating that I recently recovered from COVID-19 before flying internationally. How do I get one?

(Updated March 7, 2022) UMass students, faculty and staff who will be traveling internationally and recently recovered from COVID-19 can request a certificate stating they are recovered and cleared to travel, signed by a licensed UHS healthcare provider.

To request this certificate, contact Sasha Rivera at sasharivera@umass.edu and provide your phone number. You will receive a phone call to collect the necessary info including date of positive test, date isolation ended, test location, and test type.

Signed letters will be available for pickup at the UHS front desk within 4 business days.

I am an international student. What happens if I can’t easily get access to a vaccine where I live, either in the U.S. or abroad? Can I get vaccinated when I get to UMass?

(Updated Sept. 14, 2021)  International students who are unable to access the COVID-19 vaccine prior to arrival in the U.S. may get vaccinated at UMass.  Students are required to participate in the campus asymptomatic testing program until they are considered fully vaccinated.

Which vaccines does UMass Amherst currently accept as approved vaccines?

(Updated Dec. 1, 2021) UMass follows Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines on approved vaccines in Massachusetts which allow the current World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccines: 

  • Moderna
  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • Covishield
  • Covaxin
  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac

If I am fully or partially vaccinated with a vaccine that is not WHO-approved, what will I need to do when I arrive at UMass?

(Added May 6, 2021) Current scientific guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health requires you to restart your vaccination schedule in the U.S. at least 28 days after your last dose of the non-approved vaccine. This is a changing situation, and we will update guidance for international students regularly and provide specific instructions as it becomes available.

STUDENT AFFAIRS AND CAMPUS LIFE

What is the Interim Pandemic Policy?

The Interim Pandemic Policy, developed by students and staff and reviewed by the Student Government Association and the Graduate Student Senate, clearly outlines expectations for the spring semester for students living either on or off campus.

What resources are available to students living off-campus?

Off-campus students have access to university support services and resources. Additionally, the Off-Campus Student Center lounge is available as an in-person resource.

May I have guests in my residence hall room and what is the room capacity with guests?

(Updated May 18, 2022) The guest policy has been modified for Summer 2022. UMass Amherst residential students may host a maximum of two UMass Amherst student guests at one time. Guests who are not UMass Amherst students will not be permitted in the residence halls until further notice.  Please see Living at UMass Amherst for more details and updates. 

RESEARCH AND LIBRARIES

What are the current research and libraries policies?

(Updated Dec. 13, 2021) Please see the Office of Research and Engagement's COVID-19 Resources and Guidance for details about research and libraries operations.  

Are some workspaces more restrictive?

Some UMass facilities, including performance venues, farms or field stations, or individual research groups, need to adopt more restrictive health and safety measures according to their in-person activities and participants’ risk levels. Following the best practices developed over the last year, those plans should be discussed with all the participants and across spatially proximate lab groups, such as those using the same shared facilities.

FACULTY AND STAFF

For more FAQs related to faculty and staff, please see the Human Resources website and Spring 2022 FAQs

Do I need to provide my vaccine records if I’m on a leave of absence?

(Added Aug. 16, 2021) No. If you are on a leave of absence you do not need to provide your vaccination records right now. You will be required to submit your records prior to returning to any on-campus activity.

What options do employees have if they do not want to be vaccinated and don't have a medical or religious exemption?

(Added Aug. 16, 2021) Unvaccinated employees who do not have an exemption or are not awaiting approval for an exemption, shall be placed on unpaid leave and not permitted to work until they are fully vaccinated.  Those employees may use compensatory time, personal time, and accrued vacation, in that order, to remain in pay status. Employees may be placed on unpaid leave for a period of no longer than one (1) year.

CAMPUS OPERATIONS

Are face masks required in the university’s child care setting?

(Updated March 9, 2022) Yes, masks are required on campus at the Center for Early Education and Child Care.

What are the policies for spectators attending Athletics events that take place inside?

(Added Oct. 1, 2021) Everyone aged 12 and older who attends a campus indoor athletic event is expected to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or show a negative COVID-19 (PCR or antigen) test result within 72 hours of the event date. UMass Athletics reserves the right to request proof of vaccination/negative test prior to event admission. If guests do not meet the expectations or cannot provide proof of vaccination/negative test, UMass Athletics reserves the right to deny admission to the event. Read more about this policy on the Athletics website.

How is trash removed from my workspace?

(Added July 15, 2021)  All academic buildings have established central pick-up points. Occupants take their trash to this central location, from which custodial staff remove it. Maps identifying these locations are available on the Physical Plant Custodial webpage

What COVID-19 related guidelines are used to determine best practices for HVAC?

(Added Aug. 19, 2021) UMass Amherst is using COIVD-19 related guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to inform HVAC-related measures on campus.

What do I need to know about ventilation in university buildings?

(Updated Dec. 5, 2021) The university is employing ventilation best practices across campus. University buildings are supplied with a percentage of outside air either via mechanical fans (a mechanical HVAC system), or natural ventilation (e.g., operable windows), dependent on each building and system. Naturally-ventilated classrooms also have air purifiers for operation during the cold winter months when windows cannot be opened.

HVAC

  • In buildings with HVAC systems, air is mechanically supplied to building spaces by air handler units.  These units are started two hours prior to occupancy. Air handlers increase air flow rates as much as possible during occupancy.
  • Air handlers serving laboratory buildings provide 100 percent outside air. This means that all of the air delivered to the space from the air handler comes directly from outside and is 100 percent exhausted, with no recirculation. Windows in lab spaces with fume hoods should not be opened because this can interfere with the functioning of the fume hood. Fume hoods provide excellent exhaust for spaces and ensure adequate ventilation without opening windows.
  • Many non-lab buildings recirculate a portion of the air from the space and mix it with a portion of outdoor air. In these buildings, the campus optimizes the system to bring in maximum fresh air whenever possible and exhaust it entirely or filter any recirculated air.
  • HVAC air filtration is rated by Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, known as MERV ratings. ASHRAE recommends filters with MERV13 rating or higher as part of its COVID-19 guidelines. UMass is utilizing MERV13 and MERV14 rated filters for all areas where air is recirculated. 
  • Facilities maintenance staff continue to perform scheduled preventive maintenance on all HVAC systems. 

Natural Ventilation

  • In buildings that use natural ventilation, occupants are encouraged to open operable windows while occupying a space.  For instructional spaces with natural ventilation, Physical Plant staff are responsible for opening and closing the windows.
  • Natural ventilation is an approved method by the CDC of improving ventilation, and good air change has been observed with this method on campus. 
  • If you are not sure if your building uses natural ventilation or mechanical ventilation, please contact your Building Coordinator.

Air Purifiers

  • The university is providing air purification units to naturally ventilated classrooms. During warmer months, opening windows provides additional fresh air to naturally ventilated spaces. Opening windows in the colder months can lead to occupant discomfort, frozen pipes and less energy efficiency. 

 

If you have concerns about specific spaces, please contact EH&S at askehs@umass.edu or at 413-545-2682. To report a ventilation problem in academic and administrative buildings, contact the Facilities Solutions Center at 413-545-6401.

Why are air purifiers provided to some classrooms?

(Added Dec. 5, 2021) The university is providing air purification units to naturally ventilated classrooms for enhanced ventilation. During warmer months, opening windows provides additional fresh air to naturally ventilated spaces. Opening the windows in the colder months can lead to occupant discomfort, frozen pipes and less energy efficiency. 

What air purification technology is used in the provided units?

(Added Dec. 5, 2021)  Air purification units all contain a carbon filter and high efficient particulate air (HEPA) filters. Carbon filters remove odor causing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air, while HEPA filters are capable of removing 99.97% of particulates and aerosols that are 0.3 micrometers (μm) in diameter. Note that HEPA filters are rated for a capture efficiency of 0.3 μm particles because this size is the most difficult to capture. This means that the filters are even more efficient at capturing particles of other diameters.

If I want an air purifier in my classroom, will the university provide one on request?

(Added Dec. 5, 2021) The university is providing air purifiers to naturally ventilated classrooms. If your classroom has mechanical ventilation, it does not need an air purifier.  If you believe your classroom is naturally ventilated and needs an air purifier, but it does not have one, please contact Environmental Health and Safety for an evaluation at askehs@umass.edu or 413-545-2682.

How should air purification units be positioned and how often are the filters changed?

(Added Dec. 5, 2021) The units have both an inlet, where air is taken from the room into the unit, and an outlet where filtered air is returned into the room. The units should be positioned so they do not blow directly onto one person. The units will be positioned correctly when they are delivered to spaces, but please check these periodically to ensure appropriate placement. If you have questions about appropriate placement, please contact Environmental Health and Safety at askehs@umass.edu or 413-545-2682.

The HEPA filters on the units are rated by the manufacturer for at least one year of service.  The filters will be changed as needed by the Physical Plant per the manufacturer's schedule. The units also have indicator lights to alert users when they need to change the filter. If the indicator lights are on, please report this to the Solutions Center at 413-545-6401 and the filters will be replaced.

What can I do to improve ventilation in my residence hall?

(Added Aug. 19, 2021) Heating and ventilation in the residence halls has been reviewed and it is recommended that students in naturally ventilated residence halls slightly open windows (1/4” to 2” crack) when occupying their room or common spaces to allow fresh air to circulate in the room. It is recommended not to leave windows open when a space is not occupied. Please close windows when you leave a space. If a window will not open or close properly, please submit an iService Request.

It is not necessary to open windows in the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community and North Apartments because the mechanical ventilating systems in these buildings introduce enough outdoor air  automatically. It is important not to block supply and return diffusers in these buildings with items like furniture.

Bathrooms and restrooms in all residence halls use mechanical ventilation, and hallways have 100% fresh air supply. Opening windows in these spaces is not necessary.

Do bathrooms, restrooms, and elevators have ventilation?

(Added Aug. 19, 2021) Yes, bathrooms and restrooms have exhaust systems that removes air from the space and all elevators use mechanical ventilation.

What are the minimum air change rates spaces should have?

(Added Aug. 19, 2021) There is no minimum acceptable air change rate for a space as this is dependent on the activities and number of occupants in a space at a given time. It is important to note that dilution ventilation (i.e., increasing the air change rates) is not an effective strategy for controlling airborne contaminants on its own. Buildings on campus are providing at least the minimum supply air cubic feet per minute (cfm) per person as provided by ASHRAE 62.1.

Who should I call with requests or concerns about custodial services or questions about the air purification setup in a classroom?

(Updated Dec. 5, 2021) The Solutions Center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 413-545-6401. You may also contact your Customer Service Representative.